Visitors of Mount Athos in the 1970s and 80s had many doubts about the survival of this UNESCO World Heritage that German and Dutch television recently called “the last secret of Europe.” Churches and buildings in ruins gave a bleak picture of the most ancient functioning republic in the world, the autonomous monastic polity of the 20 monasteries of Mount Athos.
Since then, however, teams of young educated monks started establishing progressively in the Imperial Monasteries and started the backbreaking work of restoration. They attracted young monks from around the world.
Centuries ago, the Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Georgian, and Serbian languages were first recorded and cultivated behind the walls of Athonite monasteries. Still today, Mount Athos portrays the most vibrant force of Greek culture. Monks from all over the world learn Greek in order to study the Greek Orthodox spirituality.